It was certainly an eventful night of boxing at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, where a pair of former featherweight world titleholders dipped their toes into the 130-pound division and began to lay the foundation for their future plans.
Both Oscar Valdez and Carl Frampton came out victorious, although Frampton had a much easier time than Valdez. Adam Lopez, who stepped in on less than two days’ notice, raised his stock, even in defeat. And in the biggest shock of the night, undefeated Carlos Adames fell to Patrick Teixeira, who won an interim world title in the process.
So what’s next? Let’s break down the next step for each of Saturday’s standout fighters.
Valdez locks up shot at Miguel Berchelt
Well, first Valdez and his brain trust are going to breathe a sigh of relief. His original opponent for this weekend, Andres Gutierrez, weighed in a full 11 pounds over the 130-pound limit and was scratched from the fight.
Into the breach stepped upstart Lopez, who was scheduled to face Luis Coria on this undercard. But this was no garden variety late replacement. In Lopez, Valdez faced a slicker, more skilled foe than Gutierrez, which was clear when Lopez sent Valdez to the canvas in the second round with a counter hybrid hook and uppercut. Throughout the bout, Lopez proved to be an elusive target for the former WBO 126-pound titlist.
Eventually, Valdez caught up to Lopez by stopping him in the seventh, aided by what looked to be a premature stoppage by referee Russell Mora.
So as we look ahead and turn the calendar to 2020, it’s clear who Valdez will be paired with next — WBC 130 pound titlist Miguel Berchelt, considered the best fighter in the division, since the Valdez-Lopez bout was a WBC eliminator. Valdez said during the post-fight interview that he wants the Berchelt fight, a match-up that many fans will be yearning for.
Lopez shows potential in short-notice opportunity
Stepping in late the way he did, Lopez, whose father, Hector, was a world-rated junior welterweight, was in a no-lose situation against Valdez. And with the way he performed, he comes away from this weekend as a fighter to keep tabs on in the future.
Again, it was an extremely questionable stoppage by Mora. Yeah, Lopez was sent down in the seventh frame and he was was buzzed. Valdez was letting his hands go, too, and yet, Lopez was still protecting himself fairly well and looked to have his wits about him. He was ahead on one scorecard and within one round on a second; Lopez had earned the right to see if he could survive the rest of the round and attempt to clear his head before the start of the eighth.
Considering the way this fight played out, this was a solid performance for Lopez, who opened eyes with his composed performance. He exhibited a certain type of poise that is rare for a boxer that has never been up against a former champion. At age 23, his future is bright — especially considering he’s a natural featherweight who was fighting up in weight. He won in defeat.
Frampton keeps his options open with decisive win
Frampton’s first fight since losing a unanimous decision to IBF featherweight world titleholder Josh Warrington 11 months ago was everything he needed it to be. Frampton was sharp in outpointing previously undefeated Tyler McCreary over 10 rounds.
Not only did he pitch a shutout, Frampton sent McCreary to the mat twice with a series of left hooks to the body in the fifth and eighth rounds.
The taller McCreary, who had four inches in height on the Irishman, was consistently chopped down on the inside by Frampton’s body attack.
It was a sharp performance for Frampton, who was simply too seasoned and poised for McCreary, who had never been at the world-class level. While the 32 year old native of Belfast and two-division world champion may not be in his absolute prime, Frampton showed that he’s far from from a faded fighter.
Moving forward, Frampton has options; this fight had a catch-weight of 128 pounds, the middle point between featherweight and junior lightweight, and he has spoken about going back down to 126 pounds for a particularly lucrative opportunity. But Frampton, who has already won major world titles at junior featherweight and featherweight, says the chance to become the first Irish boxer to win belts in three weight classes is something that truly intrigues him.
While he has always yearned for a rubber match with Leo Santa Cruz, the reality is that Santa Cruz doesn’t seem nearly as interested and currently sits on the other side of the street with Premier Boxing Champions.
WBO 130 pound titleholder Jamel Herring, like Frampton, is under the Top Rank banner, and he’s said that for the right price, he’s willing to defend his title in Ireland. Frampton said in the post-fight interview that he’d be willing to face Herring in New York as well, and with two willing participants, this fight seems like a natural fit.
And yeah, Herring was ringside at the Cosmopolitan on Saturday night for a reason.
What’s next for Teixeira and Adames?
The fight between Teixeira and Adames was a grinding affair, as they battled for the interim WBO 154 pound title. When it was all said and done, Teixeira got his hand raised in victory by the scores of 116-111, 114-113 and 114-113.
The seventh round was pivotal, with Teixeira scoring a knockdown of the hard-charging Adames, who was taking control of the fight. But Adames was suddenly stunned and knocked to the canvas for the first time in his career. From that point on, Adames wasn’t quite as imposing for the rest of the night.
It was a huge victory for Teixeira, who may soon become the full fledged WBO belt-holder with Jaimie Munguia ultimately going up to middleweight full time. It’s also a major score for Golden Boy Promotions, which needs all the assets they can get in their stable outside of Canelo Alvarez.
Teixeira, of Brazil, was written off after getting blown out by Curtis Stevens in two rounds in May 2016, but his is a story of perseverance. With this big victory, Teixeira has earned placement on the bigger shows. While not a big puncher, this southpaw throws a high volume of punches and generally makes for good fights. One major issue, though, is that he was cut and bloodied around both eyes in this bout with Adames and was masked in crimson for rounds at a time.
For the time being, Teixeira will be allowed to ”rest,” said Golden Boy President, Eric Gomez, Teixeira’s promoter. But looking ahead and perusing the WBO rankings, Brian Castano is third in the division, while Adames and Teixeira were rated one and two coming into the weekend. That would certainly be an enticing matchup, given both fighters’ aggressive styles. Another interesting name in the WBO ratings is former junior middleweight titleholder Liam Smith, who faced Munguia back in July 2018, going the distance in a losing effort.
As for Adames, who suffered his first career loss, the future isn’t as certain. There’s no doubt that Top Rank will bring him back eventually on their undercards in 2020, but you wonder where this loss leaves him mentally. For the first time in his career, he was hurt and sent to the canvas. In the late stages of the fight, Adames’ legs were noticeably worn down and he didn’t have the same vigor as we had seen in the past, when he would bully his opponents in the late rounds.
While Teixeira had a strong finishing kick, Adames was content to just survive until the final bell. It makes you wonder if his conditioning for this fight was up to snuff. It was a physically grueling fight from start to finish, the type that can change a boxer, and we’ll have to see if he’ll be the same the next time he’s in the ring.